For more than 25 years, SNEC and SERI have conducted free community eye screenings, aimed at pre-emptively detecting eye abnormalities such as cataract, refractive errors, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, myopic degeneration and other eye diseases, as part of our on-going preventative strategy to curb the rise of eye diseases in our community.
SNEC, together with SERI further spearheads and organises the annual National Eye Care Day, aimed at promoting better awareness of the common blinding conditions, such as glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, AMD, as well as educate the community on the fragility of vision, and the importance of preventive eye care.
Launched by the then Minister for Health, Mr Lim Hng Kiang in 2000, to date we have screened more than 35,000 participants, mainly seniors from various parts of Singapore from this one-day annual event. Patients diagnosed with abnormalities were given options to either visit the polyclinic, the SNEC or private eye specialists for further assessment.
Public talks on eye-related topics and exhibitions on common eye disorders remain integral components of the public education and outreach programmes. These are done in partnership with community centres, grassroots organizations and voluntary welfare organisations. We have also conducted eye care talks on myopia prevention at primary and secondary schools.
Additionally, we collaborated with the Singapore Society of Ophthalmology (SSO), leveraging on funding support from the Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) “Seeing is Believing” grant, to establish the Mobile Eye Clinic (MEC) project, aimed at bringing eye care facilities to needy members of the community, who are unable to have access to healthcare due to physical or logistical barriers.
In recent years, SNEC and SERI have jointly worked in collaboration with various NGOs to carry out humanitarian efforts to countries in South East Asia and beyond. As part of SingHealth’s humanitarian outreach programme in Myanmar, SNEC and SERI participated in providing free eye screenings at Kayin Chaung Station Hospital. The hospital is a Singapore-led initiative that was started as part of an international emergency response to help Myanmar cope with the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in 2008.
Twice yearly, the SNEC and SERI team organises visits to the Yangon Eye Hospital and the Yangon’s military hospital to conduct subspecialty training and the sharing of medical knowledge and expertise.
In 2014 in partnership with the Ayerwaddy State District Government, SNEC clinician, Dr Marcus Ang, led a team of optometrists and ophthalmologists, who organized free eye clinics, cataract surgeries and education and training sessions. As part of these efforts, patients were examined, medications and spectacles were prescribed, as well as distributed to the needy. In totality, this on-going initiative has managed to treat more than 10,000 patients from the Himalayas to the rural villages in South-East Asia.
Similarly, another SNEC clinician, Dr Jayant Venkatramani Iyer, spearheaded efforts to conduct regular free eye clinic sessions, in collaboration with the Tzu Chi Foundation for the less privileged in Singapore. He is additionally involved in humanitarian eye care programs in many underdeveloped countries including India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and China.
All of these efforts further reaffirm SNEC-SERI’s goal and mission of caring beyond borders and extending much needed eye care services to the young, poor and elderly, and for communities with no access to the much sought after eye care facilities and relevant eye care services, be it in Singapore and/or in many underdeveloped countries in this region.